Boy with dyspraxia chases modelling dream

Twelve-year old Joseph Hale from Cleethorpes was last year’s star of an advertising campaign for fashion retailer, River Island. What made Joseph’s achievement all the more remarkable was the fact he is diagnosed with dyspraxia, Down’s syndrome and global development delay.

His disabilities mean that he develops both physically and mentally at a slower rate than other children.

Despite this, Joseph is determined to live the life he chooses, which is one geared towards performance and proving that his conditions won’t stop him chasing his dreams.

The boy’s courting of success began at an early age, when, aged one, he reached the finals of the Grimsby Telegraph’s ‘Baby of the Year’ competition. More recently, he joined the Zebedee Performing Arts Group, giving him an outlet for his love of singing and dancing.

It was through Zebedee that the River Island modelling came about. Joseph, along with other members of the group, was put forward for the fashion retailer’s latest campaign.

Karen Hale, Joseph’s mum, explains: “I didn’t think he had a chance of winning, but as soon as River Island saw his pictures, they rang us up to see if he wanted to come in.

“Models are always shown as having the perfect body, so it’s great they’re giving normal people a chance.”

Joseph’s face became instantly recognisable as posters and billboards appeared across the country and with more modelling projects on the horizon, Karen is keen to highlight how the campaign is helping to change perceptions: “The campaign was great at helping people to see the personalities behind the disabilities. Zebedee has been fantastic in helping to make disabled children more visible. They’re part of our society, so they deserve to be visible like anyone else.”

She concludes: “Disabled people have their own thoughts and dreams like anyone else.”

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